The Rejection of Design, and a Reversion to Checkbox Comparisons

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

One of the things I see often from people who don’t like the look of Hey is “I can do all of this in Gmail with labels and blocking senders.”

My response would be, “sure, you could probably do a lot of this in Gmail as well, but that’s not the point.”

I think that the thing people don’t bring up in this conversation is design. The way Gmail and Hey are designed is totally different, and the apps push you into doing different things with your email. Gmail is a complicated service by default, with 4 dort of inboxes, numerous labels (you probably have 100 labels if you’ve used a bunch of third party apps in the past), and a UI that’s built to work for many millions of people because Gmail has become the default email service over the past decade and half.

Hey on the other hand is designed around a specific handful of workflows. It’s designed around a screener system that makes you manually allow each sender to access your email at all (I’ve blocked several spammy “can we write a sponsored post on your site” 🤮 emails already), which is a mental shift from Gmail’s in-by-default view. And then little things like removing the need to archive messages, options to create mini-todo lists for things you will reply to later, and more.

These design details and suggested workflows make Hey a different experience from Gmail, and while it will not appeal to everyone, I think that suggesting that “most of this can be replicated in Gmail,” is selling design short and reverts to checkbox comparisons that are not always useful.

Here’s another example: macOS and Windows. I would wager that you could get your work done on either platform, especially if you do a bunch on the web where the functionality is exactly the same. However, despite sharing almost entirely the same features, you likely have a strong opinion on which platform you prefer.